Observing that environmental degradation holds back growth, a top official of the World Bank on Wednesday said that conservation of biological diversity is essential for poverty eradication.
"Environmental degradation actually holds back growth and drives up poverty.
"In a recent study, we found in more than 20 countries the average cost of environmental degradation was more than 8 percent of GDP.
"Protecting and maintaining and investing in natural resources base is, therefore, essential to sustain economic success," World Bank vice president Rachel Kyte told reporters in Hyderabad.
She was speaking at the ongoing UN convention on biological diversity here on the occasion of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty today.
"We will not eradicate poverty, leave alone speed it up without building shared prosperity.
"And that shared prosperity will depend on nature and the services it provides. We need to have a more inclusive and greener growth going forward," she said.
Though significant progress has been made in the last 20 years in poverty eradication, there is still much more to do in the endeavour, she said.
"1.3 billion people still don't have access to electricity, 2.6 billion people with no access to sanitation, 900 million lack safe, clean drinking water, and as FAO said last week, around 800 million people still go to bed every night hungry. These are unacceptable statistics for this modern day and age," she said.
The World Bank, whose mandate is to work for realising a world without poverty, is one the largest financiers across the globe for biological diversity conservation, she said.
"Because, our mission is to foster a world without poverty, we chose to become one of the largest financiers world wide of biodiversity conservation.
"We believe that nature is at the very heart of the kind of growth we need to drive forward.
"We invested more than seven billion in biodiversity conservation in the past 20 years," Kyte said.
The governments, private sector, communities and the civil society need to work in partnership towards poverty eradication, while ensuring that conservation of environment is taken care of, she said.
Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, the executive secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity, also stressed that poverty eradication has a lot to do with the agenda on biodiversity which needs to be understood by all.
Conservation of nature is also important to ensure the livelihood of millions around the world, he said.
He read out the message of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on the occasion of the International Day for Eradication of Poverty.
"More than a billion people still live in poverty, denied from their right to food, education and health care. We have to empower them to help us find sustainable solutions.
"We should spare no effort to ensure that all countries reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2050," the message read out by Dias said.
The UN development framework is being prepared for the period after 2050 building on the MDGs, it said.